Feeding a Fussy Dog

By: Di Ellis

When we "adopted" our latest dog, Hamish, he was about 6 years old, and had already gone through at least 3 homes that we know of, and perhaps more .  He was originally a rescue dog from the RSPCA, and was found living wild in a cemetery.

Now Hamish is a very small dog (6Kg), so he had to have his wits about him to survive in such an unforgiving place. Needless to say he had a little bit of a wild streak in him, and he was very distrustful about food.

When we first got him home, he insisted on sniffing all food, and would not eat in front of us. When we put his food down, we would hold some out for him to sniff, but he'd sniff it then walk away. However we often found that the food was gone by next morning.

The problem is that we also have a cat, who is fed nearby, and at dinner we feed them the same food (raw chicken necks, raw chicken wings, meat, etc). So we had to be sure that it wasn't just our 6.5 Kg cat stealing his food!

He also wouldn't eat cooked food – and I had always cooked for our previous dogs and they loved it! I'm not sure Hamish had ever seen a vegetable before, and they definitely didn't smell right! Actually, our previous dogs were bull terrier crosses, and they ate anything that didn't move! Their favourite food was what I call "dog porridge", but it actually has meat, lots of vegetables, and just a couple of cups of rolled oats – our boys just couldn't get enough of that. This was a whole new experience for us!

So how did we solve it?

The first thing was to get Hamish into a routine – to expect food at the same time each day. That meant not leaving the food bowls lying around if he didn't eat his food right away.

Straight after our walk in the morning, I would put out a little commercial dog food for Hamish, and cat food for the cat. After 15 or 20 minutes, it was taken away, whether eaten or not. I did however leave out a small bowl of dried biscuits for each of them.

At night, both animals are fed fresh food, and generally the same thing. I feed them around 6:30, just after I have watched the news. And I use the same method. The food goes down, and it is lifted after 15 or 20 minutes, whether eaten or not.

The second thing was to introduce vegetables slowly. I started with a meat loaf, as you can hide grated vegetables in meat loaf pretty well! Then (and I know you're not supposed to do this!) I would feed him tidbits of vegetables from my dinner. Of course he loved them, because it wasn't dog food. So slowly we got Hamish to start eating vegetables.

The final thing we did was to buy him a glass (or china) dog food bowl. I know I don't like drinking tea or coffee from a Styrofoam or plastic cup, and I wondered if the plastic food bowls didn't have some smell or taste that sensitive dog noses could pick up. So, he got a proper food bowl.

I'm pleased to say Hamish has now turned into a normal dog, food wise. He eats his food 95% of the time, he even hangs around the kitchen while I'm cooking in case I drop anything on the floor. It's not always worth stealing, but he checks it out anyway, and sometimes whatever is dropped is worth eating!

About The Author

Di Ellis is one of the owners of BestDoggieTips. You can find the recipe for Dog Porride (better known as Remus's Weekly Stew) on our Recipes page.